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Seahawks DE LJ. Collier
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Can Seahawks’ Collier and Ursua take necessary step forward in 2020?

The Seahawks will be looking for L.J. Collier to take a big step forward in 2020. (Getty)

The Seahawks’ 2018 draft class was one of the team’s best in years, as Seattle got first-year contributions from players such as cornerback Tre Flowers, tight end Will Dissly and punter Michael Dickson.

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While those three shined at times during 2018, their two top picks from that draft – running back Rashaad Penny and defensive end Rasheem Green – didn’t really flash until their second seasons.

Penny struggled initially to live up to his billing as a first-round pick, finishing his rookie campaign with 419 rushing yards and two touchdowns while Green, a third-round pick, had just one sack in 10 games in 2018.

The duo took big steps forward in their second seasons, as Penny seemed to be coming on his own in the second half of the season before tearing his ACL and Green led Seattle in sacks with four. He also forced three fumbles and recovered one.

Seattle’s 2019 class also had some rookies play well from the start, namely receiver DK Metcalf, but there’s clearly room for improvement for some of the players going into their second season.

Who can and needs to take a big step forward from 2019 to 2020? Bob, Dave and Moore discussed this on their Wednesday show, and Dave Wyman, a former NFL linebacker, said the team’s most disappointing rookie will be much better in his second season.

“I’ll go out on a limb and say I’m expecting something from (first-round defensive end) L.J. Collier,” Wyman said.

Collier was selected with the 29th pick of the draft and played just over 150 snaps in 11 games and had just three tackles. He suffered an injury in training camp that likely slowed his early development, and he was a healthy scratch throughout the season, including the teams two playoff games.

Collier’s rough rookie campaign was especially troubling as the Seahawks needed pass rush help in the worst way, as Seattle finished tied for the second-fewest sacks during the regular season with 28.

Wyman had a similar start to his career. Drafted in the second round, he played just three snaps as a rookie. He came back for his second year and played in all 16 games and had over 100 tackles.

“I feel like it was just a comfort level of coming back (for the second season) and I think there’s lots of pressure for being a first-round draft choice,” Wyman said. “I was a second-rounder, so it was a little bit less, but I feel like L.J. Collier is going to come back and be a major contributor … I haven’t written him off.”

Co-host Bob Stelton said while Collier could come back with a stronger second season, the disappointment he felt in him is still valid.

“I don’t think it’s out of line to be disappointed with a first-round pick … I don’t think it’s unfair to say ‘you know what? I expect more than three tackles’ unless it’s a severe injury and he’s been out the majority of the season, that’s different,” Stelton said. “But if we’re talking about a guy who, for the most part, is healthy, three tackles I don’t think is unfair to say ‘yeah, disappointed. Not a great year. Really feels like a bust at this point.'”

Jim Moore said Wyman spoke highly of Green between 2018 to 2019 and he showed remarkable improvement, so it’s not out of the question for the same thing to happen for Collier.

One player that many had high hopes for in 2019 was receiver John Ursua, who Seattle selected in the seventh round. He was a healthy scratch for most of the season and had just one catch, though it was a big fourth-and-10 conversion that nearly helped Seattle beat the San Francisco 49ers in Week 17.

Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said that he wished they had used rookie cornerback Ugo Amadi on defense more earlier in the year, and Stelton wonders if the same could be said for Ursua on offense.

“I hope he kind of feels that way about Ursusa, too,” Stelton said. “I hope there’s an emphasis on really trying to see can this guy be our slot guy? Can he step into that role? Let’s get him the opportunities.”

Wyman wants to see a public effort from quarterback Russell Wilson in building an on-field relationship with Ursua. Last offseason, Wilson posted videos of him working out with Metcalf, and Metcalf emerged as a top target as a rookie.

“You know what will be good news is if we see in the offseason Russell tweeting somewhere that he’s working out and he’s throwing the ball to John Ursua,” Wyman said.

Listen to the conversation at this link or in the player below.

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